Make Ahead

Grandma Ruth's Icebox Sugar Cookies

March 29, 2010
Author Notes

My mother's mother, Ruth Hendricks Schoenberger made these with my mother when she was a child and my mother in turn made them with myself and my siblings. My grandmother was a force to be reckoned with in her baking skills (her mother was a legendary baker in her time I am told), thinking nothing of whipping up pie crusts, yeast rolls, and these sugar cookies on a daily basis for almost 7 decades. She married late for back then (in 1936 at the age of 26) as she awaited my grandfather (in Cincinnati, OH) who traveled around to other states to find work during the Depression. I recall her telling me that she would visit him and always bring something she baked with her. I don't know if she brought these but I'd like to think so. I imagine her mixing these up and putting them in her icebox to chill then slicing and baking them before taking the train to visit her beloved. Her actual recipe calls for the cookies to be rolled out (she called them Christmas Cutouts on her recipe card) but I do not have the counter/table space so icebox cookies seemed like a good idea to go along with my fantasy of her baking them in that manner. Her recipe also calls for cake flour (which I did not have) so I made my own combining 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour with 2 tblsp. cornstarch to equal 1 c. cake flour (I doubled it to have enough for these cookies. You can find this on —testkitchenette

  • Serves 15-20 cookies
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons milk/cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour or white whole wheat flour and cornstarch mixture described above.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and prepare baking sheet with parchment paper/silicone liner.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Mix the egg, milk or cream, vanilla, and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a handheld mixer or upright one, cream the butter and add the sugar gradually. Add the egg, milk/cream, vanilla, and lemon mixture. Add the flour mixture and combine thoroughly. Form into a log on parchment paper.
  4. Chill overnight. Slice with knife or dental floss (no wax or mint please) into scant 1/2" slices. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool if you can wait that long to taste them.

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